4 locals receive probation following narcotics bust of THC-laced snacks

Published 12:14 am Saturday, October 21, 2017

LAPLACE — Four guilty pleas and various sentences involving probation closed out a LaPlace narcotics bust that created regional attention because of seized THC-laced snacks that carried names like “Cannamon Toast Crunch,” “Froot Poofs” and “Weetos.”

THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana, was found in bags of snacks May 16, 2016, discovered during a drug investigation at an Interstate 10 hotel in LaPlace.

Authorities suspected something suspicious with the snacks because they all had name, character and logo variations of commonly known brands, as well as cannabis labeling on the packages.

Everette Taylor

Police initially told L’OBSERVATEUR they did not know if the items were made illegally, adding THC is illegal in Louisiana to possess or distribute.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office released news and pictures of the discovery three days later, which created a large response regionally.

“It’s new to us,” Sheriff Mike Tregre said at the time. “We’ve never dealt with anything like this before, and we’ve become a quick study. I feel like it is a public safety issue. I wouldn’t want a 1- or 2-year-old consuming these alleged harmless snacks.”

As of last month, according to the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court’s office, four suspects arrested and charged in the case pleaded guilty to reduced charges as a result of plea bargains.

Cortaz Williams

According to the Clerk’s office, Everette Taylor, 27, of Reserve pleaded guilty May 1 to possession with intent to distribute a schedule 1 controlled substance and possession of a legend drug. Taylor, 27, of Reserve was sentenced to five years with the Louisiana Department of Corrections suspended on both counts and given three years active probation on each count to run concurrently.

Keenan Cambre

Taylor was also ordered to pay $1,815 in fees and fines and assessed a $71 a month probation fee.

St. John District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut said Taylor “took full responsibility and accepted responsibility for the evidence that was taken into custody,” adding his guilty  plea came with note of his status as a first time offender.

On Sept. 25, three other defendants charged in the case agreed to plea bargains, each pleading guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to the Clerk’s office, Cortaz Williams, 22, of Reserve; Keenan Cambre, 27, of LaPlace; and Jairen Kendrick, 27, of Reserve were sentenced to six months in parish jail suspended and assigned six months of inactive probation.

Jairen Kendrick

Each was also ordered to pay fines and fees of $419.50. Other charges were dropped per the agreements.

Inactive probation means the defendants do not have to check in with a midemenaor probation officer, as the judge has already provided conditions for their release, which in this case are fines and fees that will be monitored for payment, Dinvaut said.

Authorities began their investigation at 10:53 p.m. May 16, 2016, after responding to a hotel in the 4200 block of U.S. 51 to reports of excessive hotel room traffic and the smell of marijuana.

Deputies spoke with two of the room’s tenants and could smell marijuana coming from the room, authorities said. Narcotics detectives called to the scene seized 50 grams of marijuana, promethazine syrup (prescription cough medicine known by the street name “lean”), drug paraphernalia used for the sale of illegal narcotics, a handgun and more than $5,000 cash, authorities said.

“Detectives also seized what appeared to be normal bags of snacks; however, upon closer inspection, detectives noticed name, character, and logo variations of commonly known brands of snacks as well as cannabis labeling on the packages,” Tregre said after the arrests. “Tests revealed the snacks included THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana.”

Each suspect was initially booked with various charges, including drug dealing, and assigned bonds that exceeded $100,000.